Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, January 2016

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

January 2016’s Beanie Bag was all about yarn construction. I got the purple version, which was really quite nice! This month’s notion was a shawl pin from Knitter’s Pride (I was so glad mine arrived intact — apparently a few got broken in transit!), there was the usual little package of wool wash from soak, a pattern coupon (I forget if I used this one or not), and of course the 4 balls of yarn.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

I just want to give a quick shout-out to January 2016’s bag: The snowflakes are so cute, and I was initially disappointed that the new zipper didn’t look as pretty until I realized that it also doesn’t seem to catch the yarn as much as the chunkier old ones. So score one for improved functional design!

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

There are 4 samples. You can read about them on the Beanie Bags website for Jan 2016, but in short they were:
20 yds of Alpaca Lana D’Oro
20 yds of Highland Duo
20 yds of Cloud
20 yds of El Cielo

The last one is exactly the same, including the colour, as a sample I’d tried from YOTM, so that was amusing. I used it very differently in this project, though.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

The pattern was a simple kerchief, like a big chunk of granny square since I did the crochet version because I like crochet colour changes better. I’m not sure what I’ll use it for, but that super-soft edge is really nice. I’d never really worked on a project with 4 completely different types of yarn before. Kind of fun, and something I would totally do again.

20160115-IMG_9662.jpg

Just to do a quick compare/contrast, here’s the Beanie Bag yarns beside my Yarn of The Month yarns. The YOTM sample (on the left) has a broader variety of unusual yarns to try (a single ply with bright colours, raffia, and a gradient linen-cotton mix), while the Beanie Bag yarns although different are intended to go together. It’s kind of interesting how the strategy is different. Also, in case anyone’s curious, I weighed the yarns and the Beanie Bags samples came in a bit heavier than YOTM in January, but it’s pretty close.

Also, I had forgotten that Jimmy Beans does a 5% cashback on yarn, and that this applies to the Beanie Bags and was auto-applied to this bag because I’d gotten to the threshold of $1, so I got this bag for $9 instead of $10. It might have been fun to build up a larger discount over time and then treat myself, but this is so much more convenient and practical and I never forget to use it. Handy! Between this and the fact that YOTM has had to raise their prices a bit to $9.50 (from $9.25), the prices are even more close than ever for people who keep a continuous Beanie Bags subscription.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, January 2016

Overall, I don’t think I learned as much from this Beanie Bag as I have from others, but it’s still a very nice bag! I got a usable project (although I don’t know how much I *will* use the kerchief as it’s started to become itchy as I wear it to write this… and I’m not sure which yarn I’m reacting to!), a nice shawl stick, a great bag, and a convenient travel size of wool wash.

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, December 2015

Beanie Bags, December 2015

December’s theme was “superwash” and it included 5 samples in worsted weight. This seemed like a perfect time for me to practice my colourwork, since “do a small fair isle project” is on my craft goal list for this year, and I need practice with colourwork.

Beanie Bags, December 2015

In addition to the yarns, there’s some pom-pom makers, patterns for wine bottle cozies, a packet of Soak wool wash, and a coupon for a discounted pattern (which I forgot about before it expired, alas!)

I took quite a few photos of this bag, but honestly when I’m looking for info on a bag I often wish there were more pictures rather than less, so if you’re curious, I put even more pictures up in my curiousity.ca/things I’ve made album on flickr.

Here’s some photo spam of the yarns:

Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash

Beanie Bags, December 2015

This was the softest yarn of the bunch!

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Plymouth Worsted Merino Superwash

Madeleinetosh Tosh Vintage

This has the subtle colour changes that Madeleinetosh is known for, although they aren’t super obvious in my photos of the little ball.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Madeleinetosh Tosh Vintage

Lorna's Laces Shepherd

Beanie Bags, December 2015

This is a nice woodsy variegated with a looser, squishy ply.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Lorna's Laces Shepherd

Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

A pleasant heathered yarn. I particularly liked working with this one.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Rowan Pure Wool Worsted

Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

Beanie Bags, December 2015

Another pleasant heathered yarn which was a great match for the Rowan.

Beanie Bags, December 2015 - Universal Yarn Deluxe Worsted

My Fair Isle sampler

Overall, they all felt pretty similar, and it’s possible that difference in softness was a function of the dyes more than the yarn itself (although the different plying does make some difference). This was great for my purposes, since it meant they worked okay together!

Beanie Bags, December 2015

This detail shot shows you two important things: #1, the variation in colour in the madeleinetosh sample. #2, the lesson I learned about fair isle samplers, which is that you *really* need to work in some sort of border to anchor the colour changes. I’ll keep this in mind for the next time I do a colourwork sampler!

Here’s the whole piece:

Beanie Bags, December 2015

The patterns were taken from “Mastering Colour Knitting

I’m not sure how I’ll fit this long sampler into my blanket made of samples yet, but I think I’m at the point where I should start putting it together rather than filing all my samples in a binder!

Pi day swap!

One of the Ravelry groups I enjoy runs a pi/e themed yarn swap and I decided to participate this year because seriously, how awesome is that? The deal was that you had to include yarn or spinning fiber, some edible goodies, a handcrafted item, and other goodies related to pi or pie. Target value was $30-40, which was actually hard shopping in all the yarn crawl stores with their beautiful handpainted, hand-made items! But I managed!

My swapee likes batman, so I made her a project bag which *might* have just been an excuse for me to buy some batman fabrics.

It’s reversible, so here’s the outside and the inside:
Batman project bag for Pi Swap
Batman project bag for Pi(e) Swap

I also made some papercraft pie boxes to fit the bag and some tea into. The lemon meringue one is a pattern from the silhouette store, and I modified it to make a blueberry pie one since I was putting blueberry tea inside:
Pie boxes for Pi(e) swap

I also made some magnets and a button, and a whole set of pretty stitch markers suitable for even bulky needles, but I didn’t take pictures of those separately.

Here’s two views of the whole package:
Pi(e) swap package

Pi(e) swap package

It included lovely yarn from Thoroughly Thwacked, a Brittany Crochet hook that my swapee was looking for, and some wooden buttons that I thought looked cool as well as the other things I mentioned. I hope it suited her!

And, since I’m sure you’re all curious, here’s the package I got from my upstream partner:

My Pi(e) swap package!

I see she noticed that I like tea 🙂

Also, check out the amazing little cherry pi pie charm:

Cherry pi pie charm from my Pi(e) swap package!

And the hat fits perfectly!

Super awesome hat from my Pi(e) swap package

Yarn Subscription preview, February 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

One more preview photo for today!

Yarn Subscription preview, February 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

These yarns have been sadly neglected in favour of Rose City Yarn Crawl stuff, but they’ll be coming up soon! I’m very much looking forwards to more teensy tiny sample knits.

Yarn of the Month is on the left, with that tempting stained glass pattern that might have me ditch the usual swatch patterns in favour of trying a two-colour affair. Jimmy Beans is on the right with the Eddie the Eagle-themed package. Apparently they yarnbombed the Sundance film festival in celebration!

Yarn Subscription preview, January 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

I took this picture back in January but apparently never actually shared it, so here’s a belated preview, if that makes any sense:

Yarn Subscription preview, January 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

Yarn of the Month is on the left, Beanie Bags on the right. Since I’m planning to block the YOTM samples tonight and nearly done with the project for the Beanie Bags, I’ll leave further discussion of the contents until the full reviews.

I had not taken a picture for February because the Beanie Bags package was delayed to the point where I was completely entrenched in Rose City Yarn Crawl knitting when it arrived, but I’ve taken a quick snap today that I’ll put up shortly!

Yarn Subscription preview, March 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

Both my subscriptions arrived on the same day, so here’s a quick preview!

Yarn Subscription preview, March 2016 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

My Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag on the left is a collection of sport weight merino in pretty pinks, with the newer square bag like they did last month, a Soak wool wash packet and this month’s notion, which is plastic spiral stitch markers. I don’t have any of those so I’m pretty pleased!

My Yarn of the Month Club mailing has two larger samples without any obvious theme. The yellow is a neat wool/linen blend with an interesting texture. The white is a slippery, shiny wool/polypropylene/nylon blend that is unlike anything I’ve ever knit by feel alone, but it’s even neater than that because it changes colour in the sun! I’ll try to get some better pictures of it tomorrow when I’ve got more sunlight!

Rose City Yarn Crawl – Mystery Crochet-a-long (Clue 3 and 4)

Crawl starts soon, and of course I’m last-minute blocking!

Here’s clue 3:

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 3

And the final clue, clue 4, unblocked. I actually missed the final colour change, those last points are supposed to be cake-coloured. But honestly, I’m so in love with the yellow/orange yarn that I’m kind of glad I made the mistake. Plus it looks better with the beads I wanted to use.

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 4

Soaking so you can see that I did actually add beads:
Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 4

Or maybe I should call them sprinkles, given the cake theme?

Blocking:
Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long Clue 4

Great pattern, but now I’m going to bed to get some sleep for tomorrow’s crawl!

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Crochet-a-long (Clue 1 and 2)

I’d planned to just do the knit-a-long for the Rose City Yarn Crawl, but then I went out to a knitting group and saw what the pattern for the crochet-a-long looked like… Not only does it look lovely all crocheted up, but the pattern itself has the most gorgeous crochet charts I’ve ever seen. Colours to distinguish rows! Highlighting to show you where pieces should line up with rows below! Careful layouts to make everything easy to read! One of the reasons I learned to knit (besides needing something to do on the 3hr long car ride to the Very Large Array) is that there are so few good crochet patterns and learning a similar craft was the easiest way to expand the range of patterns I could do. So it would be a shame to know of such a nice pattern and not try it out!

The Yarn

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long

I’d been so good about using stash yarn for the MKAL that I decided to treat myself to something at Black Sheep for this one. These are both from Teresa Ruch, a local dyer who works with synthetic fibers and uses amazingly saturated beautiful dyes. The yellow-orange ball is Tencel, the grey is bamboo rayon. It’s a neat combo because the tencel is much shinier than the rayon, so there’s a serious contrast between my two colours. And it’s a nice excuse to try some different synthetics, since I’m always on the lookouts for allergy-friendly options.

The pattern

Here’s a teensy peek at those charts I’ve been raving about:

mcal-chart

Not only are the charts clear, well-written, and easy to follow, but the “flavour” of this pattern is cake, so it’s described in layers of cake and icing. People in the thread have been naming off cakes to go with their colours, and it’s awesome. I’m calling mine creamsicle mousse.

This pattern is named after Rimsky-Korsacoffee house, one of the local places that takes “keep Portland weird” as a personal mission. Also, it has great cake.

Clue 1

Clue one included a layer of cake and the first layer of icing:
Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long Clue 1

It’s approximately kerchief-sized at this point, and a bit to fit into my photo lightbox unfolded, so I kind of need natural light to take pictures of it (my flash is somewhere in a box from the move).
Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Crochet-a-Long Clue 1

Clue 2

Clue two, also included a layer of cake and layer of icing. The icing is pretty similar, but the cake is quite a different stitch pattern! At this point, it’s starting to really look like a shawl:

Rose City Yarn Crawl MCAL - Rimsky-Korsacoffee-Cake Shawl Clue 2

And a close up:
Rose City Yarn Crawl MCAL - Rimsky-Korsacoffee-Cake Shawl Clue 2 detail

This is the first larger, non-amigurumi crochet project I’ve done since I got some “ergonomic” crochet hooks, and I’ve got to say that it makes a difference. My right hand doesn’t get tired nearly as quickly. In fact, it’s usually my left that gets tired first now! If you crochet at all, I highly recommend investing in a set. It doesn’t even have a very expensive investment: They are cropping up at absurdly cheap prices on amazon and elsewhere, maybe $10-15 for a set of hooks with a case and sometimes with some stitch markers or other notions thrown in. I have a set from clover that has a significantly more expensive list price (I got it on sale) but I honestly can’t tell the difference between it and the cheaper sets. I do admit I haven’t tried crochet with the cheaper ones for any length of time, though.

The only weird thing about these hooks that they don’t match up with the sizing of the other hooks I own, so my new G hook is a bit smaller than my old one (4mm vs 4.25mm). Thankfully, it seems to be working out fine on this shawl.

Doing both the MKAL and the MCAL was probably a bit too much, since it’s meant that I haven’t even touched my January Beanie Bags or YOTM samples, let alone the February ones, but I’m really excited about the final piece taking shape, and it’s kind of neat to be doing the less-common one. The last clues came out this past Wednesday and my deadline for the shawl is when the Crawl starts in two weeks, so it’s looking like I’ll be able to finish both without much trouble!

Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit-a-longs (Clue 1 and 2)

As I mentioned in my post about knit-a-longs, the Rose City Yarn Crawl runs both a knit and crochet a long in the month leading up to the yarn crawl. It’s a real treat seeing people wear their creations out on the crawl, and I wanted to be one of those gals sporting a new finished object on the crawl this year.

I decided that enough of my yarn was unpacked that I should be able to find some stuff out of my stash. This is actually hard, since I mostly buy yarn for specific projects and this is my first cowl, so I haven’t really shopped with that in mind. Since it’s Presidents day down here in the US, I’ll show you the red-white-and-blue yarns that became my short list before I decided on my two required colours:

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Knit-a-Long

Okay, so it’s actually blue-white-red like the French flag, but I am Canadian after all! This is KnitPicks Diadem yarn, bought during the big yarn sale in November two years ago on spec, because it sounded lovely and I wanted to try it. It’s a super fluffy alpaca-silk single ply that *feels* like heaven, but it’s kind of hard to work with because it sheds fluff, splits, and the fluff felts into little loops around the yarn that I have to cut off pretty frequently plus it sometimes loops around to make knots. And it’s hard to photograph because of the halo of fluff.

I was initially pretty disappointed by the yarn, but as I’ve gotten used to it, the luxurious feel balances out the finicky nature of the yarn. This is going to be one luxurious cowl, although I’m going to have to work for it!

I really wanted to do red & silver but once I saw the first clue, I decided silver & blue would suit it better:

Rose City Yarn Crawl - Mystery Knit-a-Long

Clue 1 is supposed to remind you of bike treads. I think it does!

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 1 detail

The whole pattern is written like a story about a bike ride, with twists and turns. Clue 2 involves some scenery and then some winding roads.

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 2 detail

It was at this point that realized that I’d somehow chosen my high school colours, silver and blue, because it reminded me of an old high school shirt when I started to get into the “scenery” part. Oh well, they’re great colours even if it is a bit funny.

Now let’s zoom out and see clue 1 and most of clue 2. I needed to take the picture while I still had nice light and figured you’ll see the last part next time. Clue 3 has been out since Wednesday so I’m a bit behind!

Rose City Yarn Crawl MKAL - Velo Cowl Clue 1 & 2

That… does not look like a cowl at all, to be honest. What a strange beast! I look forwards to seeing how this construction is going to work in the end.

Overall, the story of this cowl kind of makes it fun, and I’m loving how it feels even if the knitting process can be a tad annoying thanks to finicky yarn. I do think I’m done with mystery knits for a while after this, though… after seeing how beautiful other people’s cowls look with colour two as a variegated, I have a deeper understanding of how much I like selecting colours with advance knowledge of how they’re going to work together. But I did choose something high-contrast which looks pretty good, so I can’t be too sad!

Jimmy Beans Wool Beanie Bags, November 2015

I finally sat down and made a decision about what to make with my Beanie Bags yarn. So freeing!

First, let’s look at the package. The mailing envelope contained a single bag filled with stuff:
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The packaged contained 4 balls of yarn in the same shade of grey (although the light catches them differently in the photo below, they’re clearly the same shade in person), a plastic yarn needle, and a packet of soak fabric wash.
Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015

Here it is all together with the card and packaged-by note so you can see the other side of the bag, which is fun too:
Jimmy Beans Beanie Bag, November 2015

Very cute! You can read about the yarns on the Jimmy Beans Wool website. The “learn a thing about yarn” theme here is blending. I’m familiar with doing custom yarns in this way since here in Portland we have Yarnia, an entire store dedicated to custom yarn blends. I visited Yarnia as a stop on the Rose City Yarn Crawl and while I wasn’t willing to wait for winding something custom, I was impressed by the huge selection of options.

As I said in my previous post, it took me a while to sit down and decide what to do with these yarns, since there were a bunch of possible combinations. I finally settled on a pair of two-yarn blends.

Shibui Pebble and Cima

I just want you all to admire how black and white the yarn ball photos look. I had a momentary freak-out when they downloaded from the camera because I thought something had gone wrong and I was getting a greyscale photo instead of the original, but no, I just took very monochrome pictures.

Shibui Cima and Pebble
Shibui CimaShibui Pebble

Cima is super soft, Pebble has nice texture. The combo gives you the best of both worlds! I grabbed a stitch dictionary and tried out a kind of leafy swatch. Here it is unblocked:

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

This is “lace ribbons” on page 63 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook” if you’re trying to duplicate it.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

The end result is soft, flexible, and has that texture. Very nice! The swatch stretches out and looks a bit more angular when blocked, but the flexibility and softness of the yarn remain.

Shibui Maai and Staccato

Maai is pretty similar to the chained alpaca yarn I used for my kitty hat (it’s Misti Tui) and my one complaint with that yarn is that it’s too soft and fuzzy show much stitch definition.

Shibui Maai and Staccato
Shibui MaaiShibui Staccato

This blend, however, is all “by our powers combined!” and it’s got reasonable stitch definition with a bit of a sheen, but it’s still soft and plush with a halo of fuzz.

Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags, November 2015

The swatch is “tumbling blocks” from page 46 of Melissa Leapman’s “The Knit Stitch Handbook.” Chosen because it’s a knit/purl only texture so there isn’t too much help if the yarn can’t carry on its own. The photo is unblocked and only one side, but it basically looks the same blocked and on the reverse side.

Conclusion

Once I got around to using it, I really loved this Beanie Bag. I got to try a new technique and honestly, once I sat down with the stitch dictionary I didn’t have any trouble figuring out what to do. Just needed to get over the hump of indecision, I guess, and decide that swatches were the plan for this bunch. I loved the Shibui yarns and could see myself buying more of any of these, and it’s nice that I can turn around and just get them from the Jimmy Beans Wool website..

I’m not sure I can see myself doing a whole lot of yarn blending in this way, mostly because I can’t see myself building up a stash with appropriately matching colours for that. It seems to me that it would make more sense to take advantage of local store Yarnia if I wanted a blend, since they have a huge range of yarns and colours right there.

But I *could* see myself going out of my way to blend a yarn that wasn’t working for me, and now I’ve got a better sense of how a couple of blends work, so I feel like I learned a useful technique. Thanks JBW!

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Astute readers may note that I’m doing the December YOTM review but still haven’t done the Beanie Bag full review. That’s because even though it’s January I still haven’t knit up anything with any of my Beanie Bag yarns. How embarrassing. Now, I could blame a busy holiday, but I the answer is much simpler than that: I don’t know what to knit. Without a recommended swatch just sitting there in the bag, and a combo of yarns to choose (remember, this was the “try two held together of different types!” package), the barrier to just sitting down and doing it is a lot harder. What needle size should I use? What should I knit? Which combo of yarns? Should I try the included headband pattern even though I barely ever wear headbands? This isn’t a “grab all the supplies and throw in purse” kind of project and apparently that’s a barrier.

This isn’t an unsolvable problem, of course, but since the idea behind doing tiny yarn samples was that I wouldn’t have a huge backlog of unused yarn, it’s a bit distressing to realise that not having swatch patterns in the bag makes such a difference. I’m approaching the end of my self-imposed “I’ll try this in 3 months and then decide” and I’m torn. I love the packages, they feel like a serious treat and I like the way each one has a theme that involves teaching you about fiber, and I like taking pictures of them, but if I’m not using them, I should probably give up and move on.

So expect some experimentation on that front soon! I’ve grabbed some stitch dictionaries and a set of interchangable needles and queued up an episode of Dr. Who, but there’s a percent chance that what you’re going to see next is a bunch of tiny octopi.

Anyhow, in the meantime, here’s the easy-to-use Yarn of the Month for December!

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

This month’s yarn was *super* posh. The black is fuzzy and soft, and the red is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever used. It was a huge contrast to the pleasant-but-unexciting superwash in my other yarn bag, which isn’t to say that the other was bad at all but wow did I ever want to play with these first!

The pattern

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

It’s a Santa hat! I think I might stop mentioning the patterns; I hardly ever use them.

Soavia

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Soavia
“Really soft and smooshy with a beautiful sheen”
5.5 sts/inch on US 7
65% Wool 20% Kid Mohair 15% Silk
164 yds Color: 60

This yarn is plush and soft. You can’t tell too much from the photo, but it’s got a really pleasant halo and somehow manages a teensy sheen as well in person. It would make a positively lovely scarf or cowl, or anything worn close to the skin. It’s the sort of yarn you just want to sink your fingers into.

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Given the halo, it’s pretty surprising how easy this is to work with (sometimes fuzzy yarns can be pretty temperamental). The stitch pattern with the long criss-cross thing really shows off the yarn. It’s soft even knit into tiny stitches, but those long ones are especially easy on the fingers. So very soft. It makes me want to do a bigger project with fuzzy yarns, even though it’s getting warmer and warmer here.

Roslyn

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

Roslyn
“Colourful and subtle and a workhorse yarn with great texture”
5.25 sts/inch on US 6
65% Wool 35% Silk
382.76 yds color: 06

This is one of the nicest silk blends I’ve ever worked with. It’s flexible, soft, and feels like it would make amazing clothes because it’s a bit lighter than many wools. It somehow feels silky without feeling too slick. The heathering and colour is fun too.

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

The stitch pattern is a pretty neat cable. Although I don’t think I got the sides quite even! Yarn was very easy to work with, the slight side-to-side difference is a me problem, not a yarn problem, and it might even block out.

Yarn of the Month Club, December 2015

I was surprised to see that this yarn’s regular price is $15/100g because it feels like a much fancier and more expensive blend. Thank you Cascade for producing such nice luxury yarns!

Summary

December’s YOTM was a real treat, even in the face of me working with the super nice yarns I was using for presents in December. I’d definitely use either of these yarns again, and Cascade at least should be a thing I can find around here so I can check out the other colours. Guess I’ll keep an eye out during the yarn crawl!

Catch a Falling Star MKAL week 2

The week 3 clue came out on Friday, so I’m a bit behind still. But Clue 2 was much easier than clue 1, at least! Here’s what clue 2 looks like for me and my dino buddy:

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 2)

Still loving that thick cuff, but not so much loving the transition at the wrist bead line — it feels and looks a bit lumpy around my wrist, and the beads make strange cool spots. Of course, this is also the part of the pattern that cramped up my hand. Bah!

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 2)

This is where the mystery is a bit of a disadvantage: if I’d seen the finished product, I might have done something about that transition line. Or maybe I just have absurdly dainty wrists? Either way, I’m not willing to rip back now, though I’m debating a little bit of elastic thread or ribbon to deal with the issue, or maybe it will block a bit flatter. I will ponder it. In the meantime, on to the next clue!

Catch a Falling Star MKAL

I did manage to cast on one of those knit-a-longs: the fingerless mitt “Catch a Falling Star” MKAL. since clue 2 has now been released (as I write this — I think clue 3 might be released by the time this posts), here’s my pictures from casting on and clue 1!

Catch a falling star MKAL

I’m using Knitpicks Capretta in the Admiral colourway. This is super lush:

Fiber Content: 80% Fine Merino Wool, 10% Cashmere, 10% Nylon
Weight: Fingering Weight
Knitting Gauge: 7-8 sts = 1 on #1-3 needles (2.25mm – 3.25mm)
Crochet Gauge: 21 – 32 sc = 4” on B – E hooks (2.25mm-3.5mm)
Yards: 230
Grams: 50
Put Up: ball
Care: Hand Wash/Dry Flat

I decided after taking this photo to go with the green beads, since I like how they catch the light.

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 1)

This is not an easy pattern to do: the beaded section made my hand cramp up so badly that I had to take painkillers and rest, and I haven’t had sore wrists with any regularity since high school. I had to switch needles to metal ones to handle the purl-yo-purl that makes the texture there. And you knit part of it inside out and have to do a stitch swap… it’s definitely a challenging pattern.

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 1)

But it’s so pretty! And it is super soft with the cashmere blend yarn and those plush bobble-like POP sections.

Catch a falling star MKAL (Clue 1)

I haven’t done the second cuff because I’m not feeling like pulling yarn out of the middle of the ball *and* I’m not feeling like cramping up my hand again, but I think I will move on to clue 2 now that I’ve documented clue 1!

Yarn of the Month Club, November 2015

Not sure what I’d say what November’s theme was, but it certainly resulted in some pretty yarns arriving on my doorstep!

20151110-IMG_9143.jpg

The Pattern

A drop stitch shawl. Probably won’t make it into my repertoire because there are just so many shawl patterns in the world, but who knows, maybe it’ll be perfect for some specific ball of yarn?

El Cielo by Cascades Yarns

20151110-IMG_9144.jpg

El Cielo by Cascades Yarns
“This warm and ethereal yarn is excellent for large lace patterns.”
4 sts/in on US 8
89% superfine alpaca 11% Nylon
579.6 yds color 04

This is so soft and light! I always love alpaca, but this turns alpaca into something like mohair, and it’s amazing. It’s also teensy-tiny if you don’t count the fluff — it took me way longer than I expected to knit that tiny swatch!

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The stitch pattern gets a bit lost in the halo of this yarn, but with a bit of light or white behind it, it becomes a subtler, fuzzier version of lacework that I quite enjoy.

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Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi

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Artliea by Borgo De’Pazzi
“This superwash yarn is soft and snazzy and super fun to knit up”
3.25 sts/inch on US 11
69% superwash 30% polyamide 1% polyester
79 yds color 89

This is basically two yarns sewn together: a slow variegated superwash and a shiny metallic ribbon:
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The ribbon works really well to add a bit of sparkle. This is thick and pretty easy to work with because the two pieces are sewn together rather than just plied. My only complaint is that it isn’t quite as soft as my alpaca, but I understand that I am getting ridiculously spoiled.

Yarn of the Month Club, November 2015

I think this one would probably be a really fun treat for a new knitter, since it’s not to hard to work with and the slow colour change and sparkle ribbon really add a lot to even pretty basic stitches. Even basic garter stitch would be pretty neat because the yarn showcases the up-down of the knit stitches and the horizontal nature of the purls.

Summary

Really great yarns for November! Although I liked the Artliea I don’t see myself buying more because I’ve been doing a lot of texturework that needs solids and tonals to really shine, but I could definitely see picking it up as a gift. El Cielo is one I’ll remember as a beautiful fuzzy lace option — I’d actually love to do a sweater from this but I think I’d start with something easier for myself before I could tackle this. Maybe a huge fuzzy shawl for my grandmother, though?

Alpaca Pome Hat for Mom

This one was always intended to be a Christmas gift to my Mom, but I finished it in May. That might be the earliest I’ve ever started or finished a present.

Alpaca Hat for Mom

(whoops, sorry about the cleavage. SLR selfies are hard.)

Pattern: Pome by Agata Smektala
Yarn: I think it was Cascades Eco Alpaca or something. Super soft, pretty natural colours. My enthusiasm for the yarn might be why this got started so early!

Alpaca Hat for Mom

(No, really, SLR selfies are hard…)

Hat selfies are hard with an SLR.

Anyhow, I think the hat worked out! It’s a bit smaller than her favourite blue one, but the alpaca is definitely soft and hopefully warm enough for her daily walks. At this point, J would remind me to tell you all that alpaca is also also fire resistant. (He had an amusing chat with the alpaca rancher at the Oregon Flock and Fiber Festival once.)

Alpaca hat detail

I would definitely use this yarn again, and probably do the pattern again, although with so many neat cabled hat patterns out there, it’s hard to resist the lure of the new!

Why are there so many knit-a-longs starting in January?

January is apparently the month to start knit-a-longs! I guess it makes some sense, since many people are done with holiday gift knitting, and maybe have made new years craft resolutions to try new things where a KAL would be a good way to get help and tips as they go. But oh my goodness, I’ve seen so many of them that I feel rather overwhelmed. Normally I see a KAL once every few months, not a pile of them stacked into the new year! Even though I’m totally excited to try some of these, I just *barely* finished a Christmas present shawl to give it to M before I left Ottawa and I’m torn between taking time off and jumping in to these!

Here’s the three KALs that I’m seriously considering, of the very very many that I’ve seen:

2016 Rose City Yarn Crawl Mystery Knit Along : This is one of two mystery patterns associated with the RCYC, a big event in March where you visit some of the many yarn stores in the Portland area over the course of the weekend. This year it’s 14 stores, and that’s not even all the stores in the area! I’m tempted to do this one because it’s so neat seeing so many people making and wearing the same pattern, and I kind of want to have my own plumage for the event this year! There’s actually two Rose City Yarn Crawl mystery alongs, one for knit and one for crochet. I’m gravitating towards the knitted one because I love the description they used to help you choose your yarn. First clue comes Jan 27, so I still have some time to decide.

Catch a Falling Star MKAL: This is the January Mystery Mitt KAL for the Fingerless Glove Fanatics Group on Ravelry. I honestly don’t remember buying the pattern, so I think maybe it was free for a bit in December and I clicked the link on spec. But the designer has nice stuff and I’ve found fingerless mitts incredibly useful in the Portland weather, so I’ll probably be digging through my stash for a skein this week. First clue is already out, next due on Friday! (The Ravelry notification is the only way I remembered that I had this pattern.)

Twin Leaf Crescent KAL: This was designed by a local designer who creates beautiful patterns that are clear and easy to understand, and I’ve loved doing KALs with her in the past. The gradient kit for this is from Black Trillium, a local dyer whose yarn I’ve loved working with, and the colours are beautiful. But it’s a big shawl to add to my KAL list, overlapping directly time-wise with the RCYC cowl, and it requires a yarn purchase.

Since it seems weird to have a post on this blog without a photo, here a quick cell phone snap of what’s currently on my needles that I want to finish as well as these potential KALs:

Hobo Mitts in Progress

Hobo Mitts in Progress

This will be a set of convertible mitts for J, who says his old ones are getting pretty beat up. (I think maybe I bought them for him when we were first dating and he didn’t have enough cool-weather gear for regular visits to Ottawa?) They look super tiny on the needles, but they’re *really* stretchy and I didn’t want them to be too loose, so that’s the way they’re going to be… assuming they feel right to J when he tries them on a second time later in the process. They’ll fit more easily in a pocket this way, right?

That picture represents only a couple of days of kniting (I cast on two days ago and barely knit anything today), so they’re going fast enough that I’m hoping I’ll get these done well before the RCYC MKAL starts up! We’ll see if it gets messy when I get to the fingers!

Yarn Subscription preview, December 2015 (Yarn of the Month and Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags)

Quick peek at my yarn subscriptions for December 2015:

Yarn subscriptions December 2015

On the left is Yarn of the Month Club, on the right is Jimmy Beans’ Beanie Bags.

As with last month, Jimmy Beans Beanie Bags really wins on presentation. The bag is cute and just packed with pretty cards and offers and patterns. I think they win on sheer amount of yarn this time, too! Those circular things are pom-pom makers. This wasn’t obvious to me until I read their info page, but I’m kind of excited ’cause I was just thinking that my current system of cardboard tends to make kind of messy pompoms and that I could probably do better.

This month, Yarn of the Month Club wins on having the more luxe yarn with their theme of silk/wool blends (one’s silk/wool, one’s silk/wool/mohair). As you know if you’ve read my reviews, YOTM isn’t always so fancy, so it’s a particularly nice treat this month that it’s so different from my other samples! It’s hard to tell from the photo, but these are super soft.

Excited to try both of my subscription bags, but with the holidays and my holiday knitting, it might be a little while before I get to them! Although they are small enough to fit in my suitcase…